3 Days in Philadelphia with Kids: Ultimate Itinerary by a Local Mom
We've planned the best things to do in Philly during your next trip to the City of Brotherly Love.
Welcome to Philly, home of the cheesesteak, the Iggles, Rocky, and, oh yes, the birthplace of America. Whether you're visiting for the history, the food, the art, the sports, or the friends, there's something for everyone in the always-sunny City of Brotherly Love. We've planned a 3 day itinerary for exploring Philly with kids, including good eats, sites to see, and all the best family-friendly destinations. A kind warning--for your own good, don't wear sports gear unless it's a Philly team, mmmkay?
While you're at it, browse our list of Philadelphia's top attractions for kids, or get inspired to think like a local with our list of 100 things to do in Philly before your kid grows up. Don't forget to check our weekend events roundup while you're here for all the happenings that are, well, happening during your visit.
By the way, if you plan to visit multiple attractions in Philly, it’s worth looking into a Go City Philadelphia Pass, which includes entry to the Franklin Institute, the Adventure Aquarium, the Philadelphia Zoo, Legoland Discovery Center, and more—all for one ticket price! Read on for your 3 day guide to Philadelphia with kids.
Day 1: Things to Do in Old City Philadelphia with Kids
Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell
You can't truly experience Philly without some level of site seeing, and Philadelphia's Historic District is the place to start. Begin with a tour of the very spot where both the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution were signed--but plan ahead as the (free) tickets sell out. Just across the street you'll find the Liberty Bell. No tickets required, free to see, and an iconic symbol of the nation, the bell is a must-see on the Philadelphia bucket list. Prepare for a line and have the camera ready to capture that famous crack.
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Betsy Ross House and Elfreth's Alley
Less than a 10-minute walk away is the Betsy Ross House, where you can meet Betsy herself in her upholstery shop stitching the nation's very first flag. Pair the house with a stroll down Elfreth's Alley, the country's oldest and still operational residential street.
Climb inside a recreated soldier’s tent and dress up in revolutionary-era gear at the Museum of the American Revolution. Photo courtesy of the museum
Museum of the American Revolution
Travel back in time and discover the story of the American Revolution through interactive exhibits and programs. Here you'll find Revolution Place designed especially for kids ages 5-12, featuring reproductions of historic sites and tons of hands-on opportunities that bring the early days of the country to life.
National Constitution Center
Get ready to feel all the patriotic feels while watching the Constitution Center's Freedom Rising, an award-winning, immersive theatrical experience. Then take a selfie with the 42 life-sized statues of the founding fathers, frozen in the moment they sign the Constitution in Signer's Hall.
Lunch: Franklin Square's Square Burger
Let the kids let off some steam running around Franklin Square, where you'll find Parx Liberty Carousel and a 180-year-old fountain--oh and mini golf! For lunch, grab a bite at SquareBurger, where you can indulge in burgers, soft pretzels, hot dogs, and ice cream on Thursdays through Sundays. Visiting on an off-day? Try Pizzeria Stella not too far from the square.
Roll on over to the roller rink at Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest. Photo courtesy of the Delaware River Waterfront
After you've refueled, head east to the Delaware River, where you'll reach Penn's Landing. Different times of year bring different attractions to the waterfront, like BlueCross RiverRink Winterfest and Summerfest. Wander along the boardwalk or lay in a hammock at Spruce Street Harbor Park, attend a festival at Cherry Street Pier, grab a snack at one of the many eateries, and more.
Set sail and explore the exhibitions at the Independence Seaport Museum. Photo courtesy of the museum
Independence Seaport Museum
We recently visited this museum with our kids and were blown away by how much there was for them to do. Steer a pirate's ship, paddle a boat on the Delaware, climb aboard the Cruiser Olympia, and explore the exhibitions, all while discovering the history of Philadelphia's waterways.
If you have time and the kids aren't out of gas yet, hop a ferry and venture across the river to the amazing Adventure Aquarium. Walk in a tunnel among the sharks, try a virtual reality experience, waddle with some penguins, and more.
Dinner: Liberty Point or Bridget Foy's and Franklin Fountain
During the spring and summer months, grab dinner at Liberty Point, the city's largest restaurant with tons of space for kids to roam and amazing views of the river. We recommend Bridget Foy's for the rest of the year--they even have one of the best heated patios in the city for outdoor wintertime dining. On your way home, grab an ice cream sundae at Franklin Fountain as the cherry on top of a great day.
There are two iconic Love sculptures in Philly--one at Love Park and one on Penn's campus. Photo by J. Fusco
Day 2: Things to Do in Center City Philadelphia with Kids
Up and at 'em! Spend day two checking out some of Philly's best science museums, starting with the Franklin Institute, a must-visit in the heart of the city. In addition to blockbuster special exhibitions, a planetarium, live science shows, and more, you'll also discover the beloved Giant Heart, to which Philly kids have flocked for more than half a century.
Academy of Natural Sciences
Another Philly family favorite, this place has all the best natural history museum staples, from dinos, to a butterfly room, and an awesome interactive kid space where you can get up close with small creatures.
Stop by Dilworth Park on the way to lunch, a public plaza at the base of City Hall and adjacent to Love Park, where you can snap a selfie with the famous Love sculpture. Dilworth is often hopping with seasonal happenings, from a skating rink, light show, and holiday village in the winter to a roller rink in the spring and a hay maze in the fall.
Reading Terminal. Photo by the author
Lunch: Reading Terminal Market
Take note: it's pronounced "Redding." This historic market is a go-to in our family, where you can try so many of the best Philly eateries all under one roof. Shop from 80-something merchants--our picks include Sang Kee and DiNic's.
Phildephia's Magic Gardens are covered by magical mosaics and found objects. Photo by the author
Magic Gardens, Mural Arts, and some Street Art
One of our favorite spots in the city, Philadelphia's Magic Gardens is like a mosaic maze that you can walk through. This outdoor art environment is the work of artist Isaiah Zagar and is covered with found objects, tiles, and the artist's work. Do not miss this gem, located right on South Street, and be on the lookout for Zagar's mosaic murals all over the city. On that note, Philly's public and street art game is unmatched--check out Philadelphia's Mural Arts and the Street Department for more on where to spot art as you wander the streets of Philadelphia.
Burn off some energy and work up an appetite at one of our favorite playgrounds. Seger Park has an awesome tot lot for the littles and one of the city's best spray ground spots for warm weather fun.
Dinner: Hawthorne's or a Cheesesteak
Head to Hawthorne's for the cozy vibes, great kid options, delicious dessert, and, um, also the amazing beer selection. You're also probably craving a cheesesteak at this point, and we've ventured towards South Philly anyway, so now would be the time to pick a cheesesteak team, but be prepared stay as loyal as a local--are you Pat's, Jim's, or Geno's? (Just kidding Pat's is the only right answer).
You know what to do when you hit those iconic Philly steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Photo by the author
Day 3: Things to Do in Fairmount with Kids
Philadelphia Museum of Art
If you don't run up the Rocky steps, did you even visit Philly? Start the day with the iconic run. Do the whole thing--play the music on your phone, strike a pose, snap a photo, find Rocky's footprints at the top of the steps. There's also a Rocky statue to the right of the stairs that tourists seem to love--go there, get it all out of your system. Then, head inside to visit one of the largest art collections in the country. Bonus if you can visit on the weekend during Art Kids Studio hours.
After the museum, walk along Boathouse Row while watching the rowers on the Schuylkill (pronounced Skoo-kull FYI). The boathouses that line the river along Kelly Drive date back to the 1800s and make for a beautiful midday stroll.
Fuel up for more Philly sightseeing and adventures at Sabrina's Café. Photo courtesy of the café
Lunch: Sabrina's Café
Wander through Fairmount and make your way to Sabrina's for lunch, where you'll find the most delicious soups, sandwiches, and a full kid's menu, not to mention the hilarious rom-com brunch specials.
Please Touch Museum
Head in to the heart of Fairmount Park (which, did you know, is 10 times the size of Central Park?). Philly's children's museum is housed in a gorgeous historic building originally built for the first World's Fair in the United States. Don't be fooled by the fancy architecture--inside is a kid haven with a carousel and exhibitions including Wonderland, a Rocket Room, Imagination Playground, and more.
As the birthplace of America, Philly is home to a lot of the country's firsts, including the very first zoo in the nation. At the Philadelphia Zoo, you'll discover live animals, a kid space called KidZooU, a petting zoo, and all sorts of special seasonal events (we especially love LumiNature).
The a ride down the giant slide at Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse. Photo courtesy of the playhouse
Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse
Round out the day at this 100-year-old, free Philly playground and play space, which is also home to the most epic sliding board ever (seriously, it's a gigantic 12-foot-wide wooden slide that you ride down on a piece of burlap--go!).
Dinner: Thirsty Dice
Wind down at this gameboard cafe, not too far from where you had lunch. Order some fries, pizza, and milk shakes, grab a game, and recap your journey through Philly as a family over some Shoots and Ladders. Visit again soon!